How Abraham Teaches Us to Trust God’s Good Provision
What is God really like, His true nature?
Depending on one’s upbringing and theology, we have all developed personal views of what God is like; these ideas are also likely very different from our neighbors’ views. Naturally, we believe our own thoughts to be true. But the fact is, many of our ideas about the nature of God are simply myths that have been repeated by others and adopted as our own without much further thought.
For example, many people believe that God is angry. Yet the Bible clearly says otherwise:
“You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18).
Some people believe they can’t really know God, because He is distant. Yet the Word of God differs:
“He is not far from any one of us” (Acts 17:27).
Still others hold that God is critical, always pointing out the wrong we do, and condemning us for sins we commit. Yet the Bible tells of the Father’s heart:
“For this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘…for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye’” (Zechariah 2:8).
Moreover, God sees the good things we do. When Jesus was being baptized, a voice from heaven spoke and said, “this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). In another instance, God spoke to Cornelius and said, “your alms and your good deeds have come up as a memorial before My throne” (Acts 10:31). And about Job God said, “have you seen My servant Job? He is a perfect man, he fears Me and shuns evil” (Job 2:3). He’s not unaware of what we deal with in life, and He’s not flighty or forgetful.
The point is, there are a lot of ideas out there about God that just aren’t true, and that simply stand in the way of believers living the life of faith God has designed for us. Because of this, as Paul states in 1 Timothy 1:3-4, we need to be more intentional in what we will accept as our beliefs:
“…stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.”
God’s Name: Jehovah Jireh
Throughout the Old Testament especially, God has made His nature known to us by the names He uses. One of the more well-known by the Church is the name Jehovah Jireh – which we often think means simply “the Lord my Provider.”
Clearly, in the age we live in, as we are facing high inflation rates and rising fuel and food prices, we need to know Him as Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider.
We need to know that our source of sustenance is not the economy, not the job market, not the housing market, not the government, but Jehovah Jireh – the Lord, our provider.
“God will meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
Heaven is not having financial stress right now; it is fully supplied with every good thing, and Jehovah Jireh is well able to provide for whatever it is we need. Remember, all the gold and silver, all the wealth and resources of heaven and earth belong to Him, and He knows how to make sure you have all your needs met.
Our Father is perfectly good, and He is our fortress and our provider, even in a time of widespread shortages and turbulent stock markets. But even if we know this intellectually, how do we receive His promise of provision? How do we have such an authentic encounter with God that we actually experience Him as Jehovah Jireh?
We can look for the answer by looking at how Abraham, the “father of our faith,” received the promise of his son, Isaac.
Abraham’s Story – “I Am Your Joy and Exceeding Great Reward”
The nation of Israel began when God appeared to Abraham (Abram), a man from Ur of the Chaldeans. God called him to a life of faith and promised that he would become the father of many nations, and that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed.
But Abraham and his wife Sarah were elderly and had not had any children. They stood in faith many years, without seeing God’s promised provision. Abraham eventually had a bout with doubt and God paid him a visit.
God appeared to Abraham and said, “Abraham, I am your joy and exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). In other words, God was saying Abraham, why are you so down? I’m here and I care for you! I’ve got your back, I want the best for you. So, let’s spend some time together and you’ll feel better!
And how did Abraham respond to God?
Sadly, he complains, and in essence tells God: all I want is for You to give me that Son that You promised. God, I’m not happy because I don’t have what really matters to me.
Think of it – Abraham wanted something more than God.
Eventually, Abraham and Sarah took matters into their own hands. Abraham slept with Sarah’s maid, and he finally had a son, Ishmael. But this “family dynamic” caused much conflict and eventually a jealous Sarah made Abraham choose between them and her. Abraham chose his wife, and yet experienced great heartache.
In God’s proper time, Abraham and Sarah had a miracle baby in their old age named Isaac (“laughter”), a child that filled their lives with joy. Moreover, Isaac was the evidence of God’s promise to Abraham, that indeed all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him.
Keys to Experiencing God as Our Provider
1. Give God Preeminence
Abraham and Sarah had experienced a miracle of God’s provision. But that was only part of the blessing that God had in mind for Abraham. So then came the test:
“He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you’” (Genesis 22:1-2).
Not just give up your son. But give up your only son whom you love, Isaac.
Why was that? Why would God ask Abraham to give up his son? Did He want to hurt the boy? No. Was He going to allow Isaac to be hurt? No, God knew the outcome before He even asked.
Was it because God desired child sacrifice or enjoys seeing us suffer? No, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf makes that clear. Then why? Because Isaac was more important to Abraham, than was God. It was a critical issue.
Remember when God said, “I am your shield and exceeding great reward.” God was saying, I want to be preeminent in your life, number one, first.
When we put God first, we can fulfill our divine purpose; it’s so we can impact the lives of others the most. That’s when we are protected from the evils of greed and selfishness, self-centeredness and pride, and all the other things that eat away at our eternal soul and bring with them the risk of sending us off into eternity apart from God forever.
God wants to be preeminent in our lives because that’s what’s best for us, and when he sees an “Isaac” standing in the way of that, God will ask for it!
But when God is preeminent, then we experience him in the fullness of His provision.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
“Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the first fruits of all your increase; So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10).
If you want to experience God as Provider, make sure to put your “Isaac” on the altar and put God back in a position of preeminence in your life.
2. Practice Immediate Obedience
What was Abraham’s response to God’s request for preeminence? He obeyed, immediately!
“Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about” (Genesis 22:3).
What is the proof of making God preeminent in our lives? Obedience. Doing what God has asked. Obedience is not “mental assent” or “cognitive agreement.” Obedience requires positive action.
“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
And our willingness, isn’t really willingness, unless we are radically obedient. Jump in. Don’t delay. If you do, you will probably talk yourself out of it.
“On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there’” (Genesis 22:4-5).
Abraham’s obedience was powerful. He even told the servants to stay put, because they may have tried to talk him out of obedience.
3. Have Faith in God’s Promises
“We will worship and then we will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5).
We will come back.
“Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’” (Genesis 22:6-8).
God himself will provide the lamb. Abraham never lost faith in God’s promise. It empowered him to push forward with radical obedience.
But sacrifice Isaac? Isaac was the child of promise. Isaac was the promise. And if that was the promise, then Abraham was convinced that God would make good on His promise.
“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death” (Hebrews 11:17-19).
Now that’s faith. Abraham believed God is the way maker, even if He has to raise the dead.
It’s the kind of faith in God’s promises that position us to receive God’s promises in our lives today. It means that you trust God to make a way, and all you do is just obey!
Receiving God’s Provision
“’Abraham! Abraham! … Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:12-13).
Jehovah Jireh, “the Lord my Provider,” had the offering pre-arranged for Abraham the entire time!
God’s provision for our needs has also been pre-arranged. But we must make God preeminent and be radically obedient as well. It means we must be willing to sacrifice our personal “Isaac” in obedience to God’s instruction. What’s that mean for you? Perhaps that means start tithing, forgive an offense, pray for an enemy, or witness to a neighbor. Pray and ask.
But whatever your “Isaac” is, your provision is waiting on your willingness to make God preeminent. Lay your Isaac on the altar and have faith in God’s promise.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ipopba
Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Good Good Father. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.